Extending the strategic policy planning horizon for the next 30 years to achieve city visions, including carbon reduction targets and the development of more tailored implementation strategies for the next 5 years to enable more effective delivery of specific measures  

A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) is a strategic plan designed to satisfy the mobility needs of people and businesses in cities and their surroundings for a better quality of life. It builds on existing planning practices and takes due consideration of integration, participation, and evaluation principles.

Since the publication of the SUMP concept in 2013, the process of developing and implementing a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan has been applied in many urban areas across Europe (and worldwide). Tailored guidance to develop and deliver SUMPs exists (SUMP Online Guidelines | Eltis) for cities to follow (Guidelines for developing and implementing a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, second edition).

While the SUMP process is now considered the de facto urban transport planning concept for all European urban areas, a number of shortcomings and gaps have been highlighted though its application by cities. The SUMP-PLUS project looks to address several of these gaps through the provision of additional guidance in two main areas: 

1. Developing TRANSITION PATHWAYS, extending the strategic policy planning across sectors and longer timescales to achieve ambitious city visions, including net-zero carbon by 2050. 

2. Developing more TAILORED IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES, for the next 5 years to enable more effective delivery of specific measures, particularly for small- and medium-sized cities that often lack the resources and competencies to deliver the implementation strategies detailed in the existing SUMP Guidelines.


The task of establishing the most suitable policy strategies for long-term planning sits within the wider process of transition - from where we are now to where we need to be by 2050. This transition involves not only identifying the policies needed to get us there, but also the reforms in governance and the strengthened cross sector collaboration required to support and enable the delivery of these policies.

This process of transition is described through a Transition Pathway (TP). Within the SUMP-PLUS project, a Transition Pathway methodology has been developed, that describes the path that cities need to take towards zero carbon emissions from urban mobility.

In most cities, the path towards zero carbon emissions from urban mobility will span over more than one SUMP period. The actual impact of certain policy areas can and should be determined from a longer-term perspective. The achievement of a long-term zero carbon transition pathway can be viewed in the following terms:

Developing a full-length Transition Pathway (Source: UCL, SUMP-PLUS)

Transition Strategy

Starting from the current position of an urban mobility system that is highly carbon-dependent in the bottom left, the goal is to arrive at the top-right part of the figure, when the target of 100% carbon-free urban mobility has been reached. This will require the development of a mix of policy strategies, introduced at different times and with varying durations of implementation. Recognising that progress may well be 'lumpy', depending on political and funding cycles. Over time, in most cases, there will need to be a build-up of institutional capacity and financial resources.

Achieving the long-term carbon goals will require a symbiotic relationship between the formulation of this long-term transition pathway and its implementation, via a sequence of SUMP cycles, as illustrated below:

Interrelationships between Transition Pathway and SUMP cycles (source: UCL, SUMP-PLUS)

Transition Pathways

The initial development of a long-term transition pathway feeds into the start of a SUMP cycle, during which the high-level policy strategies are turned into specific mixes of policy measures (e.g. a strategy to reduce car use by 10% is translated into specific active travel and public transport improvements, and traffic restraint policies, such as parking restrictions). The policy measures are implemented, monitored and evaluated. Their effectiveness is fed back into the high-level transition pathway, which may well need to be monitored.

The process for developing a long-term transition pathway, made up of the Avoid-Shift-Improve components is comprised of several steps and will require extensive stakeholder engagement, for several reasons:

  • They are experts in their own fields (e.g. from electricity distribution to bus service operations);
  • There will be a need to have a common understanding and agreement on targets and measures and general support;
  • The implementation of many of the measures (e.g. online service delivery) will fall onto other stakeholders.

1a. Cross sector links for long-term transition planning

Identifying, understanding, and managing cross sector influences on mobility demand (LINKS) through aligned incentives and establishing coordination mechanisms. To achieve long term ambitious city transitions, it is recognised that a whole system approach is needed that includes overarching and shared goals between sectors to reduce travel demand / carbon impacts.

Carbon reduction targets provide the motivation for joined-up thinking and coordinated action between sectors (Energy, Mobility, Economy, Housing, Health etc) and legally binding nature of the targets secures government and political support.This requires cross-sectoral coordination at the policy and planning level to ensure that mobility consequences of decisions made in non-transport sectors (e.g., health, education, retail, tourism) are included in the transition planning. This recognises that to get to net-zero emissions we need planning that considers mobility across public services, consumption and leisure activities and incorporates links with these sectors in the decarbonisation pathway.


1b. Governance Challenges for long-term transition planning

Formulating long-term policy goals and designing policies and measures that a city needs to transition to sustainable mobility can often lead to the identification of a barrier in the current way local governance functions. While each city or municipality has its own challenges, long-term transition planning is the ability to formulate and deliver the mix of coordinated policy measures at the appropriate times and is likely to require reform to many aspects of governance, possibly including organisational structures, institutional capacities, legislation, financial resources, and funding frameworks.

To manage the governance and the policy process over time will also require cities to revise policy visions and measures, as well as to adjust governance arrangements, according to new expertise, shifting socio-political priorities, and any other regulatory, policy or institutional changes that may speed up transformative change.


1c. Stakeholder Engagement for long-term transition planning

Developing a transition pathway is a participative process involving politicians, multi-sector city planners, policy makers, private sector organisations and citizens. Stakeholder engagement for transition pathways is required at two levels:
1. Planning level - engagement to facilitate co-participative design of transition pathway policy mix and related governance reforms
2. Reorganisation/reform level - engagement to facilitate the implementation of changes needed in organisational structures, institutional capacities and financial frameworks.
Guidance is provided on who and how to involve relevant stakeholders at different stages in the transition pathway development and delivery process.



Developing more TAILORED IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES for the next 5 years to enable more effective delivery of specific measures.
The focus of the existing SUMP guidelines (second edition, Rupprecht Consult 2019) is on the development of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans that typically consider the planning requirements for the next 5 years with rough plans for up to 10 years ahead. These SUMPS should be updated every 5-10 years and the existing SUMP guidelines provide a comprehensive and established reference for cities to follow. However, feedback from cities of varying typologies has identified aspects of the guidelines where additional information and tools could enhance their understanding and application of the existing SUMP guidance.
In particular small and medium sized cities often lack the resources and competencies to deliver the implementation strategies detailed in the existing SUMP guidelines. As a result, the SUMP-PLUS project has developed additional guidance and supporting tools for developing tailored implementation strategies which are more relevant to and better align with the capabilities of smaller cities/municipalities.
The SUMP-PLUS tailored implementation strategy approach seeks to provide complementary guidance to that in the SUMP Guidelines by producing a more ‘detailed picture’ of how to plan and manage practical implementation of measures (already defined in the SUMP) in the next 2-5 years in Small and Medium sized cities.

Why should a city develop another strategy, with a similar timeframe to a SUMP? The answer is because a Tailored Implementation Strategy addresses the need to have a detailed plan for when, where and how measures will be implemented.

Measure selection, rather than implementation, is the focus of the SUMP Guidelines (Rupprecht Consult 2019). The 12-step SUMP cycle is shown in Figure 2.1. Once measure packages have been finalised in Step 7 of the SUMP cycle, the Guidelines are relatively brief in providing advice on how measures will be implemented in practice. The Guidelines advise that measure packages should be translated into a comprehensive list of actions, including ‘factsheets’ with a timeline and responsibilities of different actors (Step 8) and then “creating a financing plan for all SUMP measures, with indicative sources of funding and financing” (Step 9). Step 10 ‘Manage Implementation’ briefly refers to coordination between actors regarding implementation, and procurement of goods and services.

Figure 1: The 12 Steps of Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning, Rupprecht Consult (editor), Guidelines for Developing and Implementing a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, Second Edition,2019. 

The SUMP-PLUS Tailored Implementation Strategy builds on these steps 7-10 of the SUMP cycle by giving complementary guidance related to the following:

  1. Refining measure packaging and implementation planning to maximise effectiveness and cost-efficiency of implementation. 
  2. Identifying additional ‘supporting’ measures which, often at relatively low cost, will increase the effectiveness of ‘core’ measures (e.g. marketing and simplified ticketing to maximise take-up of a new BRT system.
  3. Deciding when and in what order measures should be implemented, including phasing of implementation across measure packages, and how measures might be co-located or ‘clustered’ spatially in different areas of the city.
  4. Integrating projects with strategic transport plansProject-based national or EU funding is an especially common way through which implementation of SUMP measures actually happens – yet these projects are not always well integrated with strategic transport plans/the SUMP, and instead existing in silos of individual projects. The Implementation Strategy guidance includes discussion of best practices for organising measure implementation and how to integrate project-funded interventions with the SUMP or other strategic plans – thus demonstrating to external funders that SUMP implementation is being well-managed and meets quality assurance requirements.
  5. Overcoming institutional and financial barriers to implementation, e.g. by leveraging ‘windows of opportunity’. In the guidance provided on creating an implementation timeline, this includes advice on how to integrate the timing of necessary ‘enabling’ activities related to institutional capacity-building and securing financial resources– undertaken well in advance of planned measure implementation, to enable success.  Funding cycles and political cycles often play a major role in determining how implementation can proceed. The guidance includes advice on how cities can have measures ‘planned and ready’ to leverage ‘windows of opportunity’ created by new funding opportunities or political changes.

Figure 2.2 provides an overview of the SUMP-PLUS Implementation Strategy concept, which consists of two parts:

Part A: Implementation Planning – a recommended process for planning measure implementation in a sequential series of four steps, to produce a list of core measure packages, an implementation timeline and a spatial overview of implementation. Combined, these elements form an Implementation Plan.

Part B: Implementation Management – a flexible set of organisational approaches for managing measure implementation.

The end product is an Implementation Strategy, with the core contents of the Implementation Plan produced through the Part A process, complemented by potential description of approaches drawing on Part B.

Figure 2.2: Overview of the Implementation Strategy concept.

2a. Cross sector links for implementation planning of measure packages

The need to travel, and the most convenient way to travel, is often dictated by decisions made by organisations in other sectors – e.g. education, health and retail. As a result, in many cases the overall volume of travel (number and length of trips) and timing of trips is largely outside the control of the transport sector.
Establishing cross sector links within the Transition Pathway development can tackle reductions in travel demand and greenhouse gas emissions at source through coordinated policy making. However, there is also the need to better manage remaining cross sector demands and emissions through joint planning of operations and service delivery that have transport implications. This could be in relation to the mobility of staff, pupils/patients/customers, visitors, as well as the freight/logistics implications of these other sectors.
Including these other sectors, that are generators of transport demand, in the implementation planning process ensures that suitable supporting measures or enabling actions applied by, or on, these other sectors are integrated within the core measure package.


2b. Governance Challenges for implementation strategies

Once an Implementation Plan has been developed detailing the core measure package (including supporting measures) and the timeline with sequencing and spatial clustering of measures, a number of institutional, political and financial issues still need to be considered.
The Governance Challenges relating to measure package delivery introduces four different approaches to managing implementation:

1. Developing delivery structures and processes
2. Integrating projects with strategic transport plans and across other relevant policy documents
3. Scanning for and leveraging opportunities to increaes resources
4. Micro-managing the delivery of specific measures


2c. Engaging stakeholders and citizens during measure implementation

Involving citizens and stakeholders is a key principle of the SUMP Guidelines (Ruppecht Consult 2019). As measures are not always precisely defined in a SUMP, continuing the engagement process into detailed design and implementation is important, as businesses and citizen groups can be impacted in different ways by construction and operational phases. Design amendments and mitigating actions can be identified to help reduce any problems and improve awareness of and the success of the measure.

A number of enabling methodologies and platforms have been established and tested in the SUMP PLUS project to support active engagement and participatory approaches from different stakeholders and citizens in the development of the tailored implementation strategy for planning, management and delivery of the core measure packages.

Guidance is provided on how cities can utilise appropriate approaches for engagement with different stakeholders at various points in the implementation planning and implementation management process.